I just recently arrived in Chicago after spending a relatively unpleasant few hours sitting adjacent to the (obviously not often cleaned) bathroom on the Megabus from Ann Arbor. Never thought I’d be so happy to breathe city air!
After a long search for a place that offers both free wireless and an outlet to plug in my computer (the security guard had to “regulate” after I plugged in at the Cultural Center), I quite happily ended up at a place called Argo Tea. Not only do they have a number of outlets for me, but they apparently have a commitment to conservation and sustainability and support a number of local community organizations (granted I know nothing of this place, so if they are evil or are owned by the devil please excuse me). The best part, however, has to be the brewing room–which is visible to the customers through a giant picture window a la Arbor Brewing Company –so that everyone can watch the brewers blend and brew their own teas. Matt and Rene would be proud.
In any case, I am in Chicago this weekend to visit some friends and to see Alan Brecknell of the Pat Finucane Centre’s Newry office tomorrow night at the Irish Heritage Center. Alan’s father was killed in a UVF/RUC/UDR attack on Donnelly’s Bar, Silverbridge in 1975. Alan has researched state collusion in mid-Ulster and the border counties for seven years now with a particular focus on the Glenanne Gang. Late last year an International Panel led by Professor Douglass Cassel of Notre Dame University published a comprehensive report on these cases. Alan was the local expert working with the panel over two years.
He has met with former loyalists including RUC officers who were members of the gang and has given evidence to parliamentary committees on both sides of the border. He is currently studying for a Masters in Human Rights Law in addition to running the Newry office of the Pat Finucane Centre.
Alan will be speaking about the nature and extent of State collusion, the Panel report and the differing approaches to truth recovery. For example, what is the role of the Police Ombudsman and the Historical Enquiry Team? What are the needs of victims’ families in a post conflict situation and what role could a truth commission play?
Those of you in or near Chicago should come out for the event tomorrow night, Saturday July 28, 8pm at the Irish Heritage Center at 4626 North Knox.